Yesterday on the BizBlog

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

SCOTT: The voice mail on my phone this morning was cryptic. It came from an anonymous caller -- I'm always wary of those anyway -- who claimed to be a former store employee at Sears. "We hear Sears is closing," she said.

It's not. I was assured by Sears Grand manager Jason Harvey that they are not, in fact, closing the new 149,000-square-foot store which opened in October to great fanfare in Cape Girardeau.

Harvey said there are no truth to the rumors.

"None whatsoever," he said this morning. "I have no idea where these things come from."

Normally, I don't report rumors. But Harvey said that the rumor is wide-spread and it's hurting business. He said some customers have gone as far as to avoid buying things there because they fear there will be no place to have their products serviced. In other words, if their refrigerator goes on the blitz, there would be no place to take it to get it fixed.

"In the past four or five days, there's been a big kick in the rumors," Harvey said. "It makes no sense. There's nothing like this going on. But I know we're not closing. Whatever we could do to kill this rumor would be helpful."

It doesn't make sense to me either. Sears made a large investment. While Sears doesn't release how much it costs to build its buildings, some have estimated the deal to be worth somewhere between $10 million and $11 million.

The new Sears is a Sears Grand -- a much larger shopping center with better presentation as well as new offerings such as a plant nursery, a snack bar and limited grocery items. The Cape Girardeau store was just the sixth Sears Grand in the country.

Sears likes the Sears Grand concept so much that it announced last month that it is phasing out 50 Sears Essentials stores across the country and converting them to Sears Grand stores to take on Wal-Mart Stores.

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